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The essential guide to the French future tense

In French, there are two kinds of future: the immediate future and the future simple.

Let’s see how that works and how to use it!

Immediate Future

The immediate future is the equivalent in English of “to be going to”. In fact, in French, we will use the verb “to go” at the present tense, in the same way English people would use it to talk about an action they are going to undertake.

I am going to work will then be translated by “je vais travailler”.

The conjugation of the verb “aller” (to go) in French at the present tense is the following:

Je vais

Tu vas

Il/Elle va

Nous allons

Vous allez

Ils vont

Then, you only have to add the infinitive of the verb you want to use, and you get the immediate future of your sentence.

Example: “We are going to swim in the pool” will be translated by “Nous allons nager a la piscine“.

Future simple

The French future simple is however totally different from its English counterpart.

In French, the future simple is a simple one-word form. Therefore, we need to distinguish the radical from its ending.

If the verb ends with ER (eg. chanter=to sing) or IR (eg. finir=to finish), you just need to add the future ending which we will see after.

If the verb ends with RE (eg. prendre=to take), you need to replace the last letter by the correct future termination.

And good news, the termination will stay the same no matter the group the verb belongs to!

The immediate future is the equivalent in English of “to be going to”. In fact, in French, we will use the verb “to go” at the present tense, in the same way English people would use it to talk about an action they are going to undertake.

As you can see, the ending never changes. The only thing that changes is whether you need to add the ending at the end of the infinitive or in place of the last letter of the verb.

Yet, there are some irregular verbs (of course!) that will not be as simple to remember. But don’t worry, there are not many of them.

We can divide the irregular forms of the future tense in two categories: verbs with spelling changes, and verbs with irregular stems.

  • Verbs with spelling changes have their future form almost unchanged, there will just be an accent or a double consonant that will make it vary a little from their normal future form. For instance, the verb “acheter” (to buy) will become at the first person of singular: “j’achèterai“. The only difference with the regular forms is the accent grave added on the first e -> è.
  • Verbs with irregular stems however don’t follow any pattern. There are fifteen of them. We will only see here the five more important. For each of them, we will write its radical. Remember that the endings of future verbs do not change and keep following the pattern written on the table above. Aller (to go) : ir-, Avoir (to have): aur-, Etre (to be): ser-, Faire (to do, to make): fer-, Venir (to come): viendr-.

Examples:

  • You will come with us :Tu viendras avec nous.
  • I will drink some French wine :Je boirai du vin français.
  • They will do their homework :Ils feront leurs devoirs.

Summary:

Future immediate: person + to go in the present tense + infinitive.

Future simple: person + verb in its future form as seen above.

I hope you enjoyed our lesson on the Future with French Lessons Australia! To get more information on our language school and its options. Send us email at info@french-lessons-australia.com

 

 

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